DBusiness Daily Update: Folktellers Studios Books to Become Animated Series, and More

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies, including updates about the COVID-19 pandemic. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.
Folktellers’ “Excerpts from an Unknown Guidebook” is on course to become an animated series. // Courtesy of Folktellers Studios
Folktellers’ “Excerpts from an Unknown Guidebook” is on course to become an animated series. // Courtesy of Folktellers Studios

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies, including updates about the COVID-19 pandemic. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.

Folktellers Studios Books to Become Animated Series

David Steward II’s Lion Forge Animation studio is partnering with Folktellers Studios to develop and produce an animated series based on Josef Bastian’s multiple award-winning “Excerpts from an Unknown Guidebook” book series.

As Folkteller’s new production partner, Lion Forge Animation will oversee the development and production of a visual adaptation of the book series, which follows a group of teenager storytellers as they cross worlds and dimensions to fight the forces of darkness.

“The ‘Excerpts from an Unknown Guidebook’ series was created to inspire children through storytelling, while promoting empowerment, accountability, and hope,” Bastian says. “Children and adults alike will enjoy these short, exciting stories packed with creatures and monsters. Our amazing family-friendly universe will be immersed more deeply into our audience with this animated adaptation.”

Stephen Sadler, produces at Folktellers, says, “We’re excited and confident that this series will make a positive impact on the lives of all those involved. Our mission, ‘stories have power and are meant to be shared,’ fits perfectly with Lion Forge Animation’s mission and values.”

According to Jeff Rivera, executive producer, and partner at Collective 5 Entertainment, “The story reflects cultures and tells stories that are rarely seen on the screen. Lion Forge Animation and Folktellers Studios are a truly dynamic team, and we are excited to be working with Jimmy Thomas, Saxton Moore and the rest of the Lion Forge Team.”

January New Vehicle Sales Constrained by Low Inventory

New vehicle retail sales for January 2022 are expected to decline when compared with January 2021, according to a joint forecast from J.D. Power in Troy and LMC Automotive. Retail sales of new vehicles this month are expected to reach 828,900 units, an 8.3 percent decrease compared with January 2021.

Total new-vehicle sales for January 2022, including retail and non-retail transactions, are projected to reach 932,100 units, a 15.6 percent decrease from a year ago.

The seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) for total new-vehicle sales is expected to be 14.1 million units, down 2.6 million units from 2021.

“Despite optimism towards the end of 2021 that diminishing supply chain disruption would result in more vehicles being delivered to dealerships, the new-vehicle supply situation has shown no meaningful improvement,” says Thomas King, president of the data and analytics division at J.D. Power. “January month-end retail inventory is expected to be below 1 million units for the eighth consecutive month. The volume of new vehicles being delivered to dealerships in January has been insufficient to meet strong consumer demand, resulting in a significantly diminished sales pace.”

According to J.D. Power, when vehicles are delivered to dealers, they sell quickly, and that a rising proportion of those vehicles have been ordered by consumers in advance. This month, nearly 53 percent of vehicles will be sold within 10 days of arriving at a dealership, while the average number of days a new vehicle is in a dealer’s possession before being sold is on pace to be 19 days — down from 51 days a year ago.

“With consumer demand still exceeding supply, new-vehicle prices continue to be at record levels,” King says. “Average transaction prices are expected to reach a January record of $44,905. Inventory shortages are resulting in even fewer incentive offers from manufacturers.”

The average manufacturer incentive spend per vehicle is on pace to be $1,319, a decrease of $2,163 from a year ago. Expressed as a percentage of the average vehicle MSRP, incentives for January are trending toward a record low of 2.9 percent, down nearly 5.2 percentage points from a year ago and the first time below 3 percent.

“Despite lower volumes, higher prices mean that consumers are on track to spend a healthy $37.2 billion on new vehicles this month, the highest on record for the month of January and 10 percent above January 2020,” King says.

Dealers are continuing to benefit from high transaction prices with total retailer profit per unit — inclusive of grosses and finance and insurance income  —being on pace to reach a $5,138, an increase of $2,969 from a year ago and the fourth consecutive month above $5,000, according to the report. The gains in per-unit profit are offsetting the drop in sales volume as the total aggregate retailer profit from new-vehicle sales is projected to be up 117 percent from January 2021, reaching $4.3 billion.

“Although the start of 2022 is disappointing from a sales standpoint, the underlying health metrics of the industry have never been stronger,” King says. “Looking forward to February, the overall industry sales pace will continue to be constrained by procurement, production and distribution and all indications are that deliveries will not rise substantially for the industry in aggregate. This means February will likely be another month of suppressed sales volume offset by near record level pricing and profitability.”

Small Business ‘Underwhelmed’ by Governor’s Proposals; NFIB Calls for Tax Relief

NFIB Michigan State Director Amanda Fisher has responded to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s 2022 State of the State Address, saying her proposals are insufficient for the challenges faced by small business.

“Given the record surpluses state government received over the past year, which are projected to continue going forward, NFIB is disappointed that the only tax relief the Governor proposed is to eliminate the so-called retirement tax, Fisher says. “This is a proposal that would only cut taxes for seniors receiving public pensions.

NFIB Michigan says small businesses in Michigan are struggling due to labor shortages, supply chain issues, inflation, and increased government regulations that continue to drive up costs.

“NFIB and its members have always advocated for tax reductions that are broad-based, which is why we gladly supported Senate Bill 768 that passed out of the Senate Finance Committee,” Fisher says. “SB 768 would cut the individual income tax and corporate tax rates to 3.9 percent. Approximately 40 percent of small businesses in Michigan pay their taxes through the corporate tax, and the rest through their individual income tax. This bill is an example of real tax relief for not only small businesses, but also individual taxpayers, including all seniors.

“If Gov. Whitmer is sincere about helping small business, we implore her to continue the partnership and compromise with the legislature that marked the last weeks of December 2021 and support tax policy that does not pick winners and losers. NFIB stands ready to work with Michigan’s elected officials to use this unique budget opportunity to help our small businesses not only recover from the past two years, but to thrive.”

Verità Telecommunications Corp. Charting Way to Future of Infrastructure

Plymouth Township-based telecommunications company Verità Telecommunications Corp. showed 50 percent growth in 2021.

Incorporated in 2013, Verità, which specializes in the design and construction of outside plant networks, had what President and CEO Michael Falsetti calls a benchmark year last year.

“Every successful company has a bookmark event that signifies a turning point,” Falsetti says. “For Verità, it was in 2015 when we entered a contract with Crown Castle for aerial and underground cable installation in Akron, Ohio. That led us to new contracts with other leading players in the telecommunications industry. Now, with connecting fiber to towers, enterprises and another 48 million homes this is turning out to be another incredible year.”

Despite the labor shortage, which has been especially crippling for the construction industry, Verità has been ramping up its staffing levels. Targeted growth for 2022 is a direct result of outreach to the Great Lakes Region and will top 400 employees and up to 130 subcontractors. With 50 percent growth in 2021, the company has proven their ability to hire qualified staff that are onboarded to operate and serve clients in The Verità Way, a principle-based approach to employee safety, empowerment, communication, and excellent client outcomes. This philosophy and standard operating process has positioned the team to win major projects.

In addition to this growth, Verità is keeping busy expanding its footprint through organic and targeted acquisitions underway commencing in the first quarter of 2022. Looking to the future, Falsetti says opportunities in infrastructure development abound in and outside of the Great Lakes Region as the move to one gigabyte, 5G networks and new Industry 4.0 technologies push telecommunications forward with fiber to home, towers, and enterprises.

Hagerty Automotive Intelligence Refreshes Valuation Website

Hagerty Inc., the Traverse City-based specialty auto insurance and lifestyle company, has launched a refreshed version of its Valuation Tools website. The resource, launched in 2011, receives significant design, navigation, and data frequency updates.

Hagerty Valuation Tools provides current and historic pricing data on more than 40,000 collectible cars, trucks, SUVs, and motorcycles. With Hagerty Price Guide values dating from 2006 and approximately 400,000 comparable auction sales spanning decades, the tool has become the go-to source for enthusiast market research. Key updates to the new Hagerty Valuation Tools experience include:

  • Design refresh emphasizes the most important market data for shoppers.
  • Navigation refinement, including free-form, text search, makes looking up a car easier.
  • Prices updated quarterly (previously three times per year).
  • Three levels of access.

“For more than a decade Hagerty has been committed to helping enthusiasts become more informed as they shop for the cars they love,” says Brian Rabold, vice president of Automotive Intelligence. “With this latest update to Hagerty Valuation Tools, I’m excited to make that process even faster and easier.”

Hagerty Automotive Intelligence also announced its prediction of $211 million in auction sales for the upcoming Arizona Auction week. This represents a 14 percent decline when compared to 2020’s $244 million total. The decline is attributed to fewer auctions hosting sales, a reduction in lots by one-third and fewer predicted $1 million vehicles offered.

Voting Now Open for Troy Chamber Business Excellence Awards

The Troy Chamber of Commerce has announced the nominees for the 2022 Business Excellence Awards and final voting is now open. This event is sponsored by Beaumont, Cadillac Products, Inc., Chief Financial Credit Union, Children’s Hospital of Michigan, Comcast Business, DTE, Horizon Bank, Hunch Free, and Trion Solutions.

The event gives the Troy business community the opportunity to nominate an individual or company that they feel has made a notable impact on the business community in 2021. A wide variety of categories are featured to recognize achievements in every facet of the workplace.

The recipients of the 2022 Business Excellence Awards will be announced virtually at 9 a.m. on Feb. 24. Final voting concludes Feb. 8. The voting form is available here and on the Troy Chamber website.

The Troy Chamber’s 2022 Business Excellence Awards are below:

  • Leadership Award, award sponsored by DTE
  • Chamber Advocate Award, award sponsored by Horizon Bank
  • Women in Action Award, award sponsored by Trion Solutions
  • Young Professional Award
  • Nonprofit Excellence Award, award sponsored by Hunch Free
  • Innovation Award, award sponsored by Chief Financial Credit Union
  • Marketing Magnet Award
  • Resiliency Award, award sponsored by Cadillac Products, Inc.
  • Customer Service Excellence Award
  • Diversity Champion Award, award sponsored by Beaumont
  • Community Impact Award, award sponsored by Comcast Business
  • Inspiring Tomorrow Award

For more information about the Troy Chamber’s 2022 Business Excellence Awards, contact Sydney Dych at sydney@troychamber.com.

Families Against Narcotics Planning Movie Event in Ann Arbor

The Washtenaw County chapter of Families Against Narcotics is hosting a movie screening event at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 22 whose goal is to eliminate the stigma associated with addiction.

The evening features a screening of “We Can Be Heroes,” a documentary directed by Mike Ramsdell, which follows boxer Taylor “Machine Gun” Duerr as he fights his way to a national title inside the ring, while simultaneously fighting the demons of his addiction and working on his recovery outside the ring.

Following the screening there will be a panel discussion on addiction stigma moderated by Dr. Frederic Blow, director of the University of Michigan Addiction Center. In addition to Taylor Duerr and Mike Ramsdell, panelists will include treatment professionals and community and national leaders.

Prior to the film screening, there will be an art exhibition showcasing the works of area artists who have been affected by substance use disorder. The pieces on display will not only reflect the experiences their creators have had with the disease of addiction, but also their hope.

“This event is a unique opportunity to bring visibility to the issue of addiction stigma by using the visual arts to inspire hope within individuals, families, and communities,” Blow says. “It will also encourage treatment, promote recovery, and save lives.”

All attendees of this event — which is free and open to the public — will receive a free print copy of “I’m Still a Person: The Stigma of Substance Use & Power of Respect,” a workbook designed to help people take thoughtful action to address the stigma of addiction within themselves, their families, and their communities.

For more information about this event, and to reserve free tickets, visit here.